Howard A. Smith, PhD, is a Senior Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a Lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Astronomy, and an assistant to the Center Director. He has over three hundred fifty published articles in astronomy and astrophysics, and is also the author of the book, Let There Be Light: Modern Cosmology and Kabbalah: A New Conversation Between Science and Religion (New World Library). His academic research emphasizes the origins of stars and galaxies, in particular using techniques of infrared astronomy and spectroscopy. He has been a lead investigator on numerous national and international research programs and on astronomy spacecraft. Dr. Smith was previously the Chair of the Astronomy Department of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, where he supervised a staff of scientists and educators in the world’s most popular museum. He played a key role in developing museum galleries, education programs, videos, and IMAX movies, including the Academy Award nominee “Cosmic Voyage.” He also served as a visiting discipline scientist at NASA headquarters, where he had responsibility for research grants and small missions. Before joining the Smithsonian, he led an astrophysics research program at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Smith has been recognized by Harvard for his excellence in classroom teaching, and has mentored both Ph.D. theses students and undergraduates. He is also active in public education and outreach, lecturing and teaching widely on the topic of science and religion, Judaism, cosmology, and modern physics. His audiences include people from all religious faiths (or atheistic perspectives) and those who normally have only a passing interest or knowledge in science or Jewish mysticism. He is the author of numerous popular science articles and OpEd pieces, recently on the topic “Alone in the Universe,” and of a weekly Smithsonian astronomy research report.
Dr. Smith holds two undergraduate degrees from MIT, in Physics and in Humanities and Science, and a PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied under Nobel Laureate Charles Townes. A traditional and observant Jew, he has lectured on cosmology and Kabbalah for over forty years. He is married with three children.